1, it was approaching a full moon which may provide some light if given clear skies.
2, it was the nearest full moon to the summer solstice when the days are longest.
3, the event would start on a Sunday as both the mountains and the roads around them would be less busy with traffic and other groups undertaking the challenge.
At 09:30am on Sunday 1st July Ellie, Chrissy, Jodie & Richard along with drivers Chris & Malc picked me up near Leeds in a mini bus packed with boots, clothes, waterproofs, back packs, food and water and we set off to West Highlands and our first mountain Ben Nevis.
N.B It should be noted that the 'National 3 Peaks' involves a lot of driving between the mountains with a journey of 6hrs+ from Ben Nevis to Scafell Pike and a journey of 5hrs+ onward to Snowdon. Add to this the journeys to the start and from the finish its no small undertaking and could be dangerous to try walk the route and drive between mountains.
During the 7hr journey I took the opportunity to give a safety briefing which outlined the procedure if there was a need to contact Mountain Rescue and what information should they be provided with, I also showed them the Aid Kit and Emergency Shelter I carry.
Ben Nevis -
Arriving in 'Glen Nevis' around 16:30hrs we readied ourselves for the first mountain. Ben Nevis summit stands 1344m above sea level and the route we were taking from near the Glen Nevis Hotel had a starting height of just 18m above sea level - leaving a route that climbs 1326m in a distance of 6.3km.
|On the way up the Mountain Track (also known as the Pony or Tourist Track)|
|Mountain Rescue are winched down to make their way to a rescue (not us!)|
|On the summit with the emergency shelter in the background.|
After a quick bite and a photo we turned to retrace our steps back down the mountain and returned back to the mini bus where it was then over to Chris and Malc to drive through the night to get us to 'Wasdale Head' where we would continue the challenge and walk 'Scafell Pike'.
Scafell Pike -
Arriving in Wasdale around 04:45am in the pouring rain and mist we readied ourselves and donned the water proofs to walk to the summit of England's highest peak Scafell Pike at 978m. The route we took climbs a total of 918m over a distance of 4.35km following the course of Lingmell Gill.
|The rain soaked, muddy track rising from Wasdale Head.|
|The path leading up the delightfully named 'Brown Tongue' and the constant rain is dampening our enthusiasm.|
|It's all getting a bit too much for Richard!!|
|Visibility drops to approx 20m as we make our way from 'Lingmell Col' to the rocky summit.|
|The wet summit of Scafell Pike.|
It was very pleasing to see everyone making a conscious effort to keep the group spirit up as this was always expected to be the lowest point of the challenge with it being the middle section, undertaken at a time usually spent in bed, after a rough few hours in the back of a mini bus and having walked the highest mountain in Britain just hours before.
Again it was a fleeting pause on top taking only time enough for a photo before leaving the wet, windy, misty summit to make the return walk back to Wasdale Head, the mini bus & some very welcome dry clothes!!
Arriving at the 'Pen-y-pass' car park at around 16:00hrs, the rain having never ceased during the journey from 'Wasdale Head' (so I was informed!), we quickly set off along the 'Miners Track' which would see us gain 726m of height over a distance of 6.37km to our final summit.
|The steadily rising 'Miners Track' hides its surprise until later!|
|Water cascades down the mountain side (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves wasn't filmed here!)|
|Ah! The steady rise is over as the track changes to a steep path leaving 'Glaslyn' behind.|
|That'll be the mist again then!|
|"Out of the mist they appeared..."|
|They've done it! The summit of Snowdon.|
Leaving the 'Pen-y-pass' car park we made our way along the steadily rising 'Miners Track' and it felt good to escape the confines of the mini bus (which was by now at bit of a mess full of wet clothes and empty drinks and food containers) to stretch the legs. As we followed the track over the causeway that divides 'Llyn-Llydaw' the rain began to fall harder and the winds increased and continued to do so as we made our way up to, and around 'Glaslyn'.
After passing the disused mine works we left 'Glaslyn' behind and the group set off up into the mist which covered the now steeply rising path as streams of water poured down. Onward and upward (and upward!), whilst putting already very tired legs to the test, we made our way to the standing stone marking the point where the 'Miners Track' meets the 'Llanberis Path' which was a very welcome sight. A further 10mins or so and the Snowdon summit came into view.
Congratulations, a photo and a quick bite to eat were followed by a safety briefing from myself (boo!), it was important that every body got back down safely and so needed to stay focused despite their fatigue and because of the poor weather conditions. The descent back to 'Pen-y-Pass' passed quickly with a sense of achievement and good banter, though some dubious jokes!
Summary - in the first days of planning the event I made it clear that though it would be nice to complete the event with in 24hrs it was more important to complete the challenge safely and not put undue pressure on either the walkers or the drivers. As it was, it was the M6 on a Monday morning that put an end to any chance of completing within the 24hrs!
I was delighted by the spirit shown by Ellie, Chrissy, Jodie & Richard through out the challenge especially when the weather was trying bring everyone's mood down.
Very well done to all!!!